Josh Kendall

Kendall’s pick: UCF exactly what Gamecocks need

Skai Moore (10) may or may not be moving from the middle linebacker spot.
Skai Moore (10) may or may not be moving from the middle linebacker spot. gmelendez@thestate.com

South Carolina needs a win, and it will get one Saturday against UCF.

There’s only so much momentum to be gained, though, from beating an 0-3 team that just lost to Furman. That’s the situation the Knights are in, coming off a loss to the Paladins to go along with a season-opening loss to FIU.

It’s exactly what the Gamecocks need as they try to break in another new starting quarterback, freshman Lorenzo Nunez, and make some changes to a defense that is the worst in the SEC through three games. Not only has South Carolina’s defense been bad but now it’s got one potential starter – cornerback Rashad Fenton – suspended for a half, and one starter may or may not be moving from middle linebacker to weak side linebacker.

South Carolina’s defensive coaches have said several times this week that they are thinking about moving Skai Moore from his starting spot in the middle to the weak side to make room for T.J. Holloman to start in the middle. Head coach Steve Spurrier said on his Thursday night radio show that he’s hopeful the team’s most effective defender – the team leader in interceptions (three) and tackles (31) isn’t going anywhere.

I guess we’ll all find out Saturday at noon. Either way, the Gamecocks have a lot they have to get figured out, and it’s critical that they start by beating the Knights.

There are a few nightmare scenarios that are possible.

Say Nunez, who has every right to still be figuring out exactly what all is happening at the collegiate level, throws an interception or two in the first half. Say a defense that has struggled gives up a big play to UCF’s offense and gives a group that is statistically the worst in the nation a small dose of hope. The Gamecocks cannot afford any of these scenarios.

If Saturday’s game is a stiff test, it won’t be a good sign for what awaits in the next two weeks – a trip to Missouri and a visit from LSU.

South Carolina 20, UCF 13

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